The fans and followers of the late sitar and surbahar maestro Subroto Roy Chowdhury organised an event at Sisir Mancha recently that turned out to be a homage to music itself.

Roy Chowdhury was trained by Nirmal Chakraborty, Birendra Kishore Roy Chowdhury and Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan. The singing style of his guru, dhrupad maestro Aminuddin Khan Dagar, also influenced his playing technique.

Sitar virtuoso Indrajit Roy Chowdhury, worthy disciple of Subrato Roy Chowdhury, is a guru with Bharatiya Vidyabhavan, New York. Accompanied by Indranil Mallick (tabla), he offered tributes to his guru by playing Jhinjhoti and Pahari Jhinjhoti, a variation of the raga.

The subtle differences between the two ragas were highlighted with pristine key-phrases. He concluded with a dhun based on raga Nanda Kauns.

Renowned vocalist Sandip Bhattacherjee began with a vilambit khayal in raga Bageshree set to ektal. The soulful badhat in his robust, melodious voice was very effective.

It was followed by a drut teental bandish with sharp taans at high speed. He concluded with a seasonal Hori Thumri. Arup Sengupta’s tabla and Gourab Chatterjee’s harmonium enhanced the beauty of the recital.

Swarganga

When Swarganga debuted in Kolkata under the loving and dynamic guidance of Vidushi Purnima Chaudhuri to pay melodic tributes to her Guru, Pandit Mahadev Prasad Mishra, no one had imagined that it will lose its beacon even before it will celebrate its 10th anniversary! Then onwards, Swarganga dedicates its presentations to Purnima di. Sur-Lahari — the 14th annual event, organised in the fond memory of Purnima di at Aban Mahal — proved that it continues the cherished legacy.

Flautist Sudip Chattopadhyay and Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri.
Flautist Sudip Chattopadhyay and Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri.

The star performer of the evening was Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri. Superbly supported by Sanatan Goswami’s seasoned harmonium, he began with jhaptal and later played teental in his usual charismatic style that rests on his immaculately measured strokes on his exemplarily-tuned tabla.

Earlier renowned flautist Sudip Chattopadhyay, a close associate of Purnima di, offered an emotive version of ragas Bihag (slow and fast teental) and Gaoti, followed by a lilting purbi-dhun with Parimal Chakraborty’s tabla as a sensitive companion.

Young, talented vocalist Shruti Gupta commenced the evening majestically with her version of raga Shree. Ably supported by Subrata Gupta (tabla) and Debaprasad Dey (harmonium), she also sang a soulful Khamaj thumri.

The sound of music

Daman Sood, the Mumbai-based world-renowned sound engineer and studio designer, announced the production of the first ever video series on “How to Record Indian Acoustic Instruments” at Shrutinandan. Under his guidance, this unique and path-breaking design of sound is conceptualised and processed by Ananjan Chakraborty, one of his most enterprising students and the life-line of the Ananjan Studio of Shrutinandan.

Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, the beacon of Shrutinandan and proud father of Ananjan, clarified, “In this era of several social media platforms one finds a lot of experimental recordings of Western instruments, whereas Indian acoustic instruments are conspicuous by their ‘ethnic’ tag and near absence from the scene.

Daman Sood flanked by Ananjan and Ajoy Chakrabarty.
Daman Sood flanked by Ananjan and Ajoy Chakrabarty.

Usually, Indian musicians and their sound technicians get to know and understand the sound through experience. There is no method of training. To get the best out of Sood ji’s visit, we requested him to guide every enthusiast interested in ‘understanding’ the sound, the most essential aspect of music-making.”

As such, to do the groundwork, Sood also conducted a three-day master class at Ananjan Studio for budding audio engineers and interested musicians. One gathered that the history of sound recording can be roughly divided into four main periods — the Acoustic era, Electrical era (including sound on film), the Magnetic era and the Digital Era.

According to Sood, “The present generation is ignorant of the early ‘analogue’ recording techniques that were developed and perfected in Europe over a period of hundred years, with their ‘quiet’ and ‘hushed’ sound-sensibilities, which acknowledged the fact that the sound designs are created on the canvas of space.

Sandip Bhattacharjee with Arup Sengupta and Gourab Chatterjee.
Sandip Bhattacharjee with Arup Sengupta and Gourab Chatterjee.

At present the world of sound is ruled by the US and it is loud and ‘sharp’, almost unnatural sound-designs, which ignore the space. This has filtered into the Indian classical music scene. My effort is to create and capture the heartwarming feel of space in sound production.”

“How to Record Indian Acoustic Instruments”, a joint venture of the Guru and Shishya, hopes to unveil the unexplored vistas of Indian music-making.

Ananjan, a trained audio engineer and musician as well, played a piece created with the new sounds of tabla on his synthesizer to give an example of the latest sound-design before discerning dignitaries.

For this the “sampling” of tabla and bayan were processed to soften the “snap” or hitting sound by adding “snare” sound. Also, by reversing the sound emanating out of a mnemonic like “dha” or “dhin”, new sounds emerged.

Evidently, the newly designed soundscapes, based on Indian acoustic instruments, have positioned Ananjan Chakraborty firmly on the threshold of a novel beginning of sound arrangements, with the blessings of his guru, Daman Sood.